Friberg has an intuitive sense for spacing, for stepping into gaps. He keeps his eyes up, looking for a quick-hit pass that can open up opposing defenses.
Erik Friberg snuggled right back into the Seattle midfield Saturday night at CenturyLink Field after returning from three-plus seasons in Europe.
Friberg was a bit of a surprise starter, having had his paperwork go through just the previous week, but the Sweden native was one of the few Sounders who played well during their 1-0 loss to last-place Colorado.
The forwards misfired once again, and center backs Chad Marshall and Zach Scott were both partially at fault for allowing Rapids forward Kevin Doyle to muscle his way through for the game’s only goal. The midfield, though, was better, edging more than 54 percent of the possession and dictating tempo more ably than it had in weeks.
Sounders @ Montreal, 5 p.m., JOEtv
“I thought the midfield was fine,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said Wednesday. “In terms of our ability to keep possession against Colorado, it was good. … We’re talking about the final 30 yards of the field where it needs to be a little bit sharper with a little more quality to create a few more chances.”
Most Read Sports Stories
- UW set to face No. 1 North Carolina in Round of 32: Here's what you need to know about the Tar Heels
- Sports on TV & radio: Local listings for Seattle games and events
- 'He's crazy': How quirky is Huskies coach Mike Hopkins? Let his players tell you | Matt Calkins
- With Sweet 16 on the line, No. 1 North Carolina is Washington's biggest game in nearly a decade
- Huskies’ magic dries up as North Carolina gives UW another early exit from NCAA tournament
Whereas the forward line will look far different when Clint Dempsey returns from national-team duty and Obafemi Martins recovers from injury — and the back line will shuffle when captain Brad Evans comes back — the midfield is unlikely to change much unless a big-name signing comes in before the transfer window closes.
What you saw Saturday is otherwise what you’re going to get — Cristian Roldan and Thomas flickering in occasional sparks out wide, Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda directing traffic from the middle of the field.
Marco Pappa will enter the fold at some point, too, once the MLS investigation of his DUI arrest and subsequent evaluation is complete.
Friberg provided an immediate look at what he can bring to a team. He has an intuitive sense for spacing, for stepping into gaps. He keeps his eyes up, looking for a quick-hit pass that can open up defenses.
“He plays the ball a little quicker, is a little more direct,” Schmid said after the game. “He connects a little further more — he gets in front of Ozzie (Alonso) more so we aren’t quite as deep with those two midfielders.”
Perkins returns to Montreal
You have to dig pretty deep in his career stats page, but Lamar Neagle did in fact suit up for a single season for the Montreal Impact, the team the Sounders take on Saturday in Quebec.
“I made some friends there, so it’s always nice to go back and see those people,” Neagle said. “It seems like yesterday, but it was three years ago that I was there. Obviously, the turnover from the team has been quite a bit.”
And though goalkeeper Troy Perkins is barely half a season removed from his tenure with the Impact, he’ll also notice few familiar faces Saturday at the Stade Saputo.
“It’s a whole new group of players, really,” Perkins said. “I can only think of three guys out of their starting 11 that were there when I was there.
“There’s not a whole lot of disdain I have toward them. It’s a good group of guys and a good club.”
Perkins spent parts of three seasons in Montreal, slotting in as the first-choice starter in 2013 before splitting time with Evan Bush last season. He signed with Seattle in mid-January of this year.
“Sometimes there’s extra motivation there, for sure, for the player,” Schmid said when asked whether players performed better against former teams. “You can see it in their step. They’re just a little more focused. It’s more focus than energy.”
Perkins has filled in for injured starter Stefan Frei the past two games. And though Schmid already has ruled out a possible weekend return for Martins, Frei could return Saturday.
• Thomas was fined an undisclosed amount by the MLS Disciplinary Committee on Wednesday for simulation, also known as diving, in the 58th minute of Seattle’s loss to Colorado.